Place, space and time: Reflections on the bespoke Practice Supervisor Development Programme

Written: 23/07/2019

By: amy bishop

In: Reflections

Published: 23/07/2019

Author: Jo Williams

Providing Practice Supervisors with a place, space and time to learn, develop, reflect and network with other social workers, away from the workplace, is an incredibly valuable backdrop to the Practice Supervisor Development Programme.

This week marks the anniversary of my interview for the role of Delivery Lead for the Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP), which seems an appropriate milestone to stop and reflect on the journey so far. I continue to feel a sense of pride and fortune to be involved in such an important programme and my travels around England, observing the PSDP in action, have reflected this.

I am consistently reminded what an amazing profession social work is and it is always a pleasure and a privilege to encounter such incredibly dedicated, talented and humble Practice Supervisors along the way. I have been really struck by the hunger for this development opportunity and the participants’ enthusiasm and drive to learn and apply their ideas to practice, often within stretched local resources and challenging contextual systems. What is evident from feedback at this juncture, is that providing Practice Supervisors with a place, space and time to learn, develop, reflect and network with other social workers, away from the workplace, is an incredibly valuable backdrop to the programme.

A testament to the promising initial feedback from the programme and the commitment to investing in social work continuing professional development (CPD), is that extension funding was awarded for additional cohorts. This has allowed an opportunity to deliver six ‘bespoke’ programmes for local authorities who identified as being able to benefit from additional places, such as those focusing on developing and improving social work supervision and practice. As with the generic PSDP, we started with a pilot bespoke programme and this was with Birmingham Children’s Trust. This enabled us to learn about what was needed, in order to gain the right insight into the experiences of Practice Supervisors and achieve the best approach to bespoke delivery, to help them to navigate challenges within their local context.

The pilot started in March 2019 and will be complete by the end of July. The shape and outline of the bespoke programme is the same as the generic PSDP, with some additional aspects, to explore and address local needs. This included an initial consultation with senior colleagues at Director level to hear more about their improvement journey and what they hoped the PSDP would contribute to this. The Director was then invited to attend at the beginning of day one and during day five of the face to face teaching days. This provided an opportunity for them to share their hopes for the PSDP with participants and then return to hear what had inspired them and what their ideas were for shaping and influencing the practice system. The ‘courageous conversation’ that we held for the pilot, will remain a memorable PSDP moment for me, as I experienced the start of the process for participants’ ‘learning transfer’ and a commitment to helping them achieve this. The Director who participated in this reflects as follows:

‘I was really pleased to hear the feedback on day 5 – the key messages for me being that our staff had used their time well to consider how they lead, and I know that they have taken a lot of learning too. Their feedback, some of which is very practical, will influence the whole system going forward. Amazingly, I saw the growth in self-belief and confidence in my staff when I returned, it will be important to enable this learning in the workplace.

I have made a commitment to take a number of suggestions forward, such as how we don’t only lead, but how we support our staff. I was also very proud to find that we have quite an untapped resource of skill, insight and talent. The most important thing for me is that my staff are empowered to use their learning back in practice. Being able to have such a bespoke model of learning provides us with this opportunity. I will support our participants in running regular learning and reflection sets, we won’t lose the learning.’

We also decided that a Principal Social Worker would attend the five face-to-face days, not only as a means of helping participants to think about embedding ideas from the PSDP, but also to provide a learning loop back into the programme, to help us consider how to shape a bespoke programme. This provided invaluable support to us as facilitators, as it enabled us to capture key themes as they arose. The Principal Social Worker who attended the bespoke pilot has reflected on the benefits of the programme as follows:

‘The PSDP offers busy managers and Practice Supervisors a chance to reflect and develop their supervisory practice and it does this in a way that encourages reflection and curiosity. I especially like the way it begins with the self and how your own identity informs your practice and supervision as a manager, before going on to examine one-to-one supervision, group supervision and team culture, with some interesting discussions about the wider organisational and professional contexts in which children’s social work practice occurs. The sessions are designed around and informed by theoretical approaches, research and practice methods but these are used with a ‘light touch’ that focuses on how they are tools to help analysis and reflection. This helped us to get the most out of these ideas and approaches. The facilitators model the reflective, open and engaging approach they discuss in the sessions. This has created a welcoming environment in which to step away, think and question.’

The generic PSDP offers participants two one-to-one reflective coaching sessions, aimed to help them explore their own learning and development plan and bring dilemmas to reflect on, in addition to modelling approaches to reflective conversations. For the bespoke programme we trialled offering an additional session prior to the first day, in order to engage participants before the programme started and establish their individual aspirations for the programme. This enabled us to draw out themes in relation to some of the challenges they were facing and balance their hopes for the programme with those of their senior managers. Our intentions in working in this way, has also aimed to reflect some of the theoretical themes underpinning the PSDP, namely working with the whole system and taking a relationship based approach to working ‘with’ people. A pilot participant reflects on their one-to-one session as follows:

‘This was a really positive session. [The facilitator] modelled some of the approaches and techniques discussed on the course to help me explore and examine a dilemma within my role, and to consider the personal, professional and organisational dimensions in which this dilemma arose. This helped me to think things through in a manner I had not been able to do prior to this. This will inform my practice in respect of the issue discussed, but in particular it reminded me how powerful, open and reflexive questions can be and how this approach to helping people to think things through for themselves, can be much more helpful for people, than telling them answers or jumping to solutions.’

A general aim of the PSDP is to develop a ‘Community of Practice’ across each cohort and within regions of the country. This ethos has generally been welcomed by the profession and an advantage for the bespoke cohorts is that they have been able to establish new relationships with peers from within their own organisation. The hope here is that together, they will collectively have an opportunity to have a real influence on supervision practices. It was rewarding to see the richness of group learning unfold over the course of the programme, particularly whilst exploring models for group supervision. A participant from the pilot reflects:

‘I have enjoyed learning about new practical methods that I can use in order to provide more reflective supervision and to be able to record this. This has allowed me to think about the balance in supervision between managing risk and case discussion and allowing workers to reflect upon their own practice and the impact of bringing ‘self’ into supervision sessions. This was particularly helpful on day four where I was able to discuss within a small group, a case scenario for an Assisted and Supported Year in Employment that I had worked with, which allowed me to think about how my own professional value base had impacted on how I worked with them. Having a group setting and the opportunity for group work, allowed for ideas to be shared about best practice and what good supervision/supervisor should look like.’

We have learned some valuable lessons through the delivery of the pilot bespoke PSDP. Consultation with participants and senior managers has enabled us to co-create the focus of sessions and ideas for practice. This has also been important in engaging busy practice supervisors in preparing for their own learner journey. Opportunities for shaping and influencing the practice system are also enhanced through facilitating conversations between participants and their leaders. Most importantly, creating the right environment and sufficient time and space, provides practice supervisors with the potential and opportunity to flourish.

Jo Williams

Jo Williams is the Delivery Lead for the Practice Supervisor Development Programme (PSDP). She works for the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, who are part of the PSDP consortium.

The Practice Supervisor Blog

This is part of


Take me back

Accept Our Terms And Conditions

Terms and conditions

This page (together with the documents referred to on it) tells you the terms of use on which you may make use of our website (our site), whether as a guest or a registered user.

Please read these terms of use carefully before you start to use the site. By using our site, you indicate that you accept these terms of use and that you agree to abide by them. If you do not agree to these terms of use, please refrain from using our site.

Information about us is a subsidiary site operated by The Dartington Hall Trust (“We”). We are registered in England and Wales as a company (1485560) and charity (279756) and have our registered office at Elmhirst Centre, Dartington Hall, Dartington, Totnes TQ9 6EL. Our VAT number is 402196875.

Accessing our site

Access to our site is permitted on a temporary basis, and we reserve the right to withdraw or amend the service we provide on our site without notice (see below). We will not be liable if for any reason our site is unavailable at any time or for any period.
When using our site, you must comply with the provisions of our “acceptable use policy” (below). You are responsible for making all arrangements necessary for you to have access to our site. You are also responsible for ensuring that all persons who access our site through your internet connection are aware of these terms, and that they comply with them.
Organisations can subscribe to our service and members of the subscribing organisation will be provided with a user login and password.
Some areas of the site are have restricted access for registered users only. If you choose, or you are provided with, a user login, password or any other piece of information as part of our security procedures, you must treat such information as confidential, and you must not disclose it to any third party. We have the right to disable any user login or password, whether chosen by you or allocated by us, at any time, if in our opinion you have failed to comply with any of the provisions of these terms of use.
More information on how we use cookies is available on our Cookies page.

Intellectual property rights

As a guest of the site you may print off one copy, and may download extracts, of any page(s) from our site for your personal reference and you may draw the attention of others within your organisation to material posted on our site.
As a registered user, you may print off multiple copies and may download multiple documents. These documents must only be used internally within the subscribing organisation to support your work. You must not pass on any part of the materials on our site to third parties and you must not use any part of the materials on our site for commercial purposes without obtaining a licence to do so from us or our licensors.
Either as a guest or a registered user, you must not modify the paper or digital copies of any materials you have printed off or downloaded in any way, and you must not use any illustrations, photographs, video or audio sequences or any graphics separately from any accompanying text. Our status (and that of any identified contributors) as the authors of material on our site must always be acknowledged.
If you print off, copy or download any part of our site in breach of these terms of use, your right to use our site will cease immediately and you must, at our option, return or destroy any copies of the materials you have made.
All Research in Practice (RiP) trademarks, service marks, trade names, logos, domain names, and any other features of the RiP brand are the sole property of RiP. We are the owner or the licensee of all intellectual property rights in our site, and in the material published on it. Those works are protected by copyright laws and treaties around the world. All such rights are reserved.
Our site changes regularly
We aim to update our site regularly, and may change the content at any time. If the need arises, we may suspend access to our site, or close it indefinitely. Any of the material on our site may be out of date at any given time, and we are under no obligation to update such material.
Our liability
The material displayed on our site is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. To the extent permitted by law, we, other members of our group of companies and third parties connected to us hereby expressly exclude:

  • All conditions, warranties and other terms which might otherwise be implied by statute, common law or the law of equity.
  • Any liability for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage incurred by any user in connection with our site or in connection with the use, inability to use, or results of the use of our site, any websites linked to it and any materials posted on it, including:
    • loss of income or revenue;
    • loss of business;
    • loss of profits or contracts;
    • loss of anticipated savings;
    • loss of data;
    • loss of goodwill;
  • wasted management or office time; and whether caused by tort (including negligence), breach of contract or otherwise, even if foreseeable, provided that this condition shall not prevent claims for loss of or damage to your tangible property or any other claims for direct financial loss that are not excluded by any of the categories set out above.

This does not affect our liability for death or personal injury arising from our negligence, nor our liability for fraudulent misrepresentation or misrepresentation as to a fundamental matter, nor any other liability which cannot be excluded or limited under applicable law.

Information about you and your visits to our site

We process information about you in accordance with our “privacy policy” (below). By using our site, you consent to such processing and you warrant that all data provided by you is accurate.

Transactions concluded through our site

Contracts for the supply of goods, services or information formed through our site or as a result of visits made by you are governed by our “terms and conditions of supply” (below).
Uploading material to our site
Whenever you make use of a feature on our site that allows you to upload material to our site, or to make contact with other users of our site, you must comply with the content standards set out in our “acceptable use policy” (below). You warrant that any such contribution does comply with those standards, and you indemnify us for any breach of that warranty.
Any material you upload to our site will be considered non-confidential and non-proprietary, and we have the right to use, copy, distribute and disclose to third parties any such material for any purpose.
We will not be responsible, or liable to any third party, for the content or accuracy of any materials posted by you or any other user of our site.
We have the right to remove any material or posting you make on our site if, in our opinion, such material does not comply with the content standards set out in our acceptable use policy (below).
Viruses, hacking and other offences
You must not misuse our site by knowingly introducing viruses, trojans, worms, logic bombs or other material which is malicious or technologically harmful. You must not attempt to gain unauthorised access to our site, the server on which our site is stored or any server, computer or database connected to our site. You must not attack our site via a denial-of-service attack or a distributed denial-of service attack.
By breaching this provision, you would commit a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. We will report any such breach to the relevant law enforcement authorities and we will co-operate with those authorities by disclosing your identity to them. In the event of such a breach, your right to use our site will cease immediately.
We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a distributed denial-of-service attack, viruses or other technologically harmful material that may infect your computer equipment, computer programs, data or other proprietary material due to your use of our site or to your downloading of any material posted on it, or on any website linked to it.
Linking to our site
You may link to our home page, provided you do so in a way that is fair and legal and does not damage our reputation or take advantage of it, but you must not establish a link in such a way as to suggest any form of association, approval or endorsement on our part where none exists.
You must not establish a link from any website that is not owned by you.
Our site must not be framed on any other site, nor may you create a link to any part of our site other than the home page. We reserve the right to withdraw linking permission without notice. The website from which you are linking must comply in all respects with the content standards set out in our acceptable use policy (below).
If you wish to make any use of material on our site other than that set out above, please address your request to
Links from our site
Where our site contains links to other sites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your information only. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources, and accept no responsibility for them or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them.
Jurisdiction and applicable law
The English courts will have non-exclusive jurisdiction over any claim arising from, or related to, a visit to our site although we retain the right to bring proceedings against you for breach of these conditions in your country of residence or any other relevant country.
These terms of use and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales.
Trade marks
RESEARCH IN PRACTICE, RESEARCH IN PRACTICE FOR ADULTS and REASON are registered trade marks of The Dartington Hall Trust.
Acceptable use
Prohibited uses:
You may use our site only for lawful purposes. You may not use our site:

  • In any way that breaches any applicable local, national or international law or regulation.
  • In any way that is unlawful or fraudulent, or has any unlawful or fraudulent purpose or effect.
  • For the purpose of harming or attempting to harm minors in any way.
  • To send, knowingly receive, upload, download, use or re-use any material which does not comply with our content standards (below).
  • To transmit, or procure the sending of, any unsolicited or unauthorised advertising or promotional material or any other form of similar solicitation (spam).
  • To knowingly transmit any data, send or upload any material that contains viruses, Trojan horses, worms, time-bombs, keystroke loggers, spyware, adware or any other harmful programs or similar computer code designed to adversely affect the operation of any computer software or hardware.

You also agree:

  • Not to reproduce, duplicate, copy or re-sell any part of our site in contravention of the provisions of our terms of website use (above).
  • Not to access without authority, interfere with, damage or disrupt:
    • any part of our site;
    • any equipment or network on which our site is stored;
    • any software used in the provision of our site; or
    • any equipment or network or software owned or used by any third party.

Interactive services
We may from time to time provide interactive services on our site, including, without limitation:

  • Comment forms.
  • Message boards.

Where we do provide any interactive service, we will provide clear information to you about the kind of service offered, if it is moderated and what form of moderation is used (including whether it is human or technical).
We will do our best to assess any possible risks for users (and in particular, for children) from third parties when they use any interactive service provided on our site, and we will decide in each case whether it is appropriate to use moderation of the relevant service (including what kind of moderation to use) in the light of those risks. However, we are under no obligation to oversee, monitor or moderate any interactive service we provide on our site, and we expressly exclude our liability for any loss or damage arising from the use of any interactive service by a user in contravention of our content standards, whether the service is moderated or not.
The use of any of our interactive services by a minor is subject to the consent of their parent or guardian. We advise parents who permit their children to use an interactive service that it is important that they communicate with their children about their safety online, as moderation is not foolproof. Minors who are using any interactive service should be made aware of the potential risks to them.
Where we do moderate an interactive service, we will normally provide you with a means of contacting the moderator, should a concern or difficulty arise.
Content standards
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (Contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
Contributions must:

  • Be accurate (where they state facts).
  • Be genuinely held (where they state opinions).
  • Comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

  • Contain any material which is defamatory of any person.
  • Contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory.
  • Promote sexually explicit material.
  • Promote violence.
  • Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.
  • Infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person.
  • Be likely to deceive any person.
  • Be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence.
  • Promote any illegal activity.
  • Be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.
  • Be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person.
  • Be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person.
  • Give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case.
  • Advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Suspension and termination
We will determine, in our discretion, whether there has been a breach of this acceptable use policy through your use of our site. When a breach of this policy has occurred, we may take such action as we deem appropriate.
Failure to comply with this acceptable use policy constitutes a material breach of the terms of use upon which you are permitted to use our site, and may result in our taking all or any of the following actions:

  • Immediate, temporary or permanent withdrawal of your right to use our site.
  • Immediate, temporary or permanent removal of any posting or material uploaded by you to our site.
  • Issue of a warning to you.
  • Legal proceedings against you for reimbursement of all costs on an indemnity basis (including, but not limited to, reasonable administrative and legal costs) resulting from the breach.
  • Further legal action against you.
  • Disclosure of such information to law enforcement authorities as we reasonably feel is necessary.

We exclude liability for actions taken in response to breaches of this acceptable use policy. The responses described in this policy are not limited, and we may take any other action we reasonably deem appropriate.
Changes to the acceptable use policy
We may revise this acceptable use policy at any time by amending this page. You are expected to check this page from time to time to take notice of any changes we make, as they are legally binding on you. Some of the provisions contained in this acceptable use policy may also be superseded by provisions or notices published elsewhere on our site.
Your concerns
If you have any concerns about material which appears on our site, please contact
Thank you for visiting our site.